Archive for November, 2018

November 13, 2018

Victor Hugo

So , short title, indeed. Do I need to tell you more? For me the name means France, there are a few more but none as high as Victor Hugo. From time of my early life I read his books first in Spanish, then in English, and finally in French all good.  When we speak fo traditions and literary mind set, he probably means France more than anyone else. For me ,the men is huge.

I cannot find photos but so what, I need to tell you about my France, the deep France, the ones known by others on books and me on beliefs and the thank you to be here, and the many thank you’s to my dear late wife Martine, who show me all about France. I remember.

For me a lousy writer to write about Victor Hugo is a monumental task, one I am not up to it, but will do my best to tell you a bit about the men and France or is it France and then the men, Victor Hugo.

Victor Hugo born at Besançon, February 2, 1802. He married Adéle Foucher in 1822, very early. He went into battle with his work of Hernani in 1830. Entered the Académie Française in 1841 ,entered the City council of Paris in 1845. In  1851 exile to Brussels, return from exile 1868, Senator in 1876, death in Paris and national funeral on May 22 1885 to be entered into the Panthéon. Indeed well deserve all of it.

Victor-Marie Hugo is the son of the Empire General Joseph Leopold Sigisbert Hugo , reaching Count status himself, according to the family tradition, by Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain, and garrisoned in the Doubs at the time of the birth of his son, and Sophie Trebuchet, young woman from the bourgeoisie of Nantes.

On October 12, 1822, he married his childhood friend, Adéle Foucher, born in 1803, in the Church Saint-Sulpice in Paris, she gave birth to five children: Leopold ; Leopoldine ; Charles , François – Victor; and Adele, the only one who survives her illustrious father, but whose mental state, very soon failing, will earn her long years in a health home.

Beginning of February 1804 and the family elects domicile at 76 rue Neuve-des-Petites-Champs. It will remain for almost five years in this apartment of the 2éme arrondissement which unfortunately remains nothing and which today corresponds to no. 20 rue Danielle-Casanova. The couple lives with Adele’s parents. They moved to 90, rue de Vaugirard; then the family moved the following year into a house at 11 rue   Notre-Dame-des-Champs. In May 1830, the family moved again to the Rue Jean-Goujon; where Adele, had their last child. They will live on Rue Jean-Goujon until October 1832. In 1832, Victor Hugo settled in an apartment of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guémené, at no 6 Place Royale, which became Place des Vosges in 1848. For sixteen years, the author of Notre-Dame-de-Paris will write several of his major works here.

At the end of November 1878, Victor Hugo moved to 130, Avenue Eylau, in a mansion in the 16éme arrondissement that belonged to the Princess of Lusignan. It is here that on 27 February 1881, more than 600 000 people will parade under its windows to celebrate its entry into its 80th birthday! Later that year, Avenue Eylau will be renamed Avenue Victor-Hugo , the house is now at 124 Avenue Victor Hugo.

In 1837, Victor Hugo, the journalist Anténor Joly and the writer Alexandre Dumas, committed the creation of a theater that will leave its full place to the romantic dramaturgy, of which Victor Hugo is one of the most illustrious representatives: the Theatre de la Renaissance settled in the premises of the Salle Ventadour, a few steps from the Rue des Petites-Champs where, as a child, the young Victor Hugo had discovered Paris. The theater did not managed to cover its costs and ceases its activity in May 1841. The new Renaissance Theater will be inaugurated on March 8, 1873 at 20, Boulevard Saint-Martin, 10éme arrondissement of Paris.

He is considered one of the most important French-language writers, indeed. He is, also a political figure and a committed intellectual who played a major role in the history of the 19C. It occupies a prominent place in the history of French letters in the 19C, in genres and fields of a remarkable variety. In the theater, Victor Hugo manifests himself as one of the leaders of French romanticism when he exposes his theory of romantic drama in the prefaces that introduce Cromwell in 1827 then Hernani in 1830 which are real manifests, then by his other dramatic works: Ruy Blas in 1838, but also Lucréce Borgia and the Le Roi s’amuse (king has fun). Victor Hugo is also a lyric poet with collections such as Odes and Ballades (1826), Les Feuilles d’Automne (Autumn Leaves 1831) or Contemplations (1856), but he is also a poet committed against Napoleon III in Les Châtiments (Punishment 1853) or even an epic poet with the La Légende des siècles (legend of Centuries 1859 and 1877). His novels also met with great popular success, including Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), and even more with the Les Misérables (wretches of 1862). His multiple work also includes political speeches in the House of Peers, the Constituent Assembly and the legislature, including the death penalty, school or Europe, travel accounts like the Rhine, 1842, or things seen, posthumous, 1887 and 1890, an abundant correspondence, as well as numerous sketches and drawings in pen and wash.

Victor Hugo was a poet, drama writer, romance novel writer that also had a political career. The humanistic message on the speech of 9 july 1849 in the National Assembly of France (Assamblée Générale) and entered in conflict with Louis Napoléon Bonaparte future Napoleon III. To defend their rights of authors and prove that they live off their writing he found the societe of people of letters or sociéte des gens de letters in 1838 initial members included Honoré Balzac Alexandre Dumas, Théophile Gautier, George Sand, and Victor Hugo etc

In 1852 Louis Napoléon Bonaparte propose change in the constitution of the 2nd Republic and Victor Hugo oppose them, the National Assembly refuses the changes ,but his family goes in danger by the police more friendly to Louis Napoléon Bonaparte. His son Charles Hugo is arrested and put in the Conciérgerie, other son Francois-Victor joined him a few weeks later. The coup d’état comes on the night of Dec 2 1851 Victor Hugo tries to get the people of Paris to raise up in arms but the repression is huge, even his friend Alexandre Dumas suggested for him to go into exile and he does. Napoleon III is firmly in his coup d état and the police searched for Victor Hugo. The mistress of Victor Hugo in Sept 1852 was Juliette Drouet and she helped him hide and escape. There is another important mistress at the time name Léonie d’Aunet wife of painter Francois-Auguste Biard who with the knowledge of his formal wife Adéle for seven years, Juliette does not know this. Victor and Leonie are caught by the police she goes two months in jail but not him as adultery was not condemn then and until 1975!!!

In 1843 during a vacation trip to Spain coming back by La Rochelle , he takes the news that his oldest daughter Léopoldine and husband drown in a boat ride in the Seine river. From this date and for a long while until his exile he stop all ,no theater, no novels, not a poem,nothing, as the shock of his daughter death is huge.

Exile in Brussels in 1851 he lived at No 16  Grand Place in the Maison du Moulin à Vent then, No. 27 Grand Place in the Maison du pigeon , and he writes a small journal Napoleon le petit or little napoleon. Juliette Drouet, does not live far away from him, while here, she is in an apartment in the Galeries Saint Hubert where today there is a library call Librairie Tropismes . Victor Hugo patronized the places in the gallery and one today rename the Tavern du Passage where he meets with other writers exile in Brussels such as Rimbaud, Verlaine, etc all in Brussels to able to think freely.

Eventually, he goes to the island of Jersey to lived with Adéle and family. Here while they settle down at Saint Helier in the neighborhood of Marine Terrace, his mistress Juliette comes in at Havre des Pas. In the 1860’s upon returning from Jersey , his wife Adéle and children lived at a house in the Place des Barricades in Brussels. In 1862, he is back in Brussels and settled in a house at the rue des Colonies.

Victor Hugo writes here the Les Contemplations, les Châtiments etc. Eventually he is force to leave the island and goes to Guernsey followed by Juliette. Victor Hugo acquired a house in Hauteville House and rent a house for Juliette a few meters away, his sons Charles and François Victor do visits and in 1863 Adéle dedicates a book to Juliette ;Victor Hugo raconte par un temoin de sa vie (Victor Hugo Tells by a Witness of his life).

In 1871 ,he finds refuge during 3 months and half at the Grand Duché Luxembourg. He stayed there successively in Luxembourg city , Vianden , Diekirch , and Mondorf, where he takes thermal bath cures

Adéle Hugo died 27 august 1868 and Juliette do not come together right away for fear of bad press but in sept 1870 when the second empire is ended and Vctor Hugo come back in triumph to France, Juliette is at his side. She died of cancer on May 11 1883 and from then on Victor Hugo stops writing altogether. He died in 1885 in his mansion or hôtel particulier « La Princesse de Lusignan », that was at no 50 Avenue Victor-Hugo, now it is no 124. The funeral goes under the Arc de Triomphe in May 31 1885 and exposed there, covered in black; a 21 gun salute is given from the  Invalides , and on june 1, 1885 the funeral processesion goes by the Avenue des Champs Elysées, Place de la Concorde, then bd Saint Germain and bd Saint Michel to arrives at rue Soufflot and his body is transferred to the Panthéon where he lies today he was 83 yr s old, and it is estimated 2 million folks in person participated in the funeral!

He was the most popular writer of his time; It is already for several decades considered as one of the monuments of French literature.

There are several webpages that traces his life, I just put some official ones here

The Association of Friends of Victor Hugo:

The  maison de Victor Hugo  (house museum) is a monographic museum, located at 6 Place des Vosges, in the 4éme arrondissement, which preserves the former Hôtel de Rohan-Guémené where Victor Hugo rented the apartment on the second floor for sixteen years, from 1832 to 1848. More info here:

In French , a bit on the house where he was born in Besançon:

Vacquerie in Seine et Marne dept 77 the resting place of his wife Adéle and oldest daughter Léopoldine near the spot where she drown with her husband in 1843 while on a Seine boat ride. Info here:

And I have been too ,in Vianden Luxembourg where his rental house is a museum today , more info:

Info on the houses he lived in the British isles of Jersey and Guernsey:

Victor Hugo in Guernsey

There you go , good reading , I did my duty to write at least this post on this great men, and hope it helps you understand the French a bit more, and do come to check these places out, awesome. Salut

And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!


November 13, 2018

Some news from France CXCXVIIII

So back to my column self made of news from my belle France! The time here is 15h12 and cloudy, cool a bit breezy but no rain temps are in 15C or about 57F and in Paris is 59F cloudy. Just a wonderful Autumn day in my belle France and beautiful Morbihan.

Now for the latest that I pick up from various sources on the news of France according to yours truly are

The Argonaut submarine, in the Parc de la Villette , 19éme, rediscovers itself through a new exhibition that plunges us into the depths of the ocean. This great black submarine, installed since 1989 a few steps from the Géode, in the Parc de la Villette. How does a submarine work, what is oceanography, what species are found in the abyss, what are the political, economic, and climatic stakes of the seas?. Finally discover the gear used to observe the depths, beacons, robots that scrutinize the oceans and advance scientific research. Clou de l’Expo (Nail of the Expo) a simulator where we go to the gamepads, as a true commander of a submarine. You know that 80 to 90% of world trade traffic are done by the sea? The deepest known point of the Earth’s crust, the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific, more than 11 000 meters deep. You know that sound propagation is much better in water 1 500 meters per second, than in air at 350 meters per second?. The Argonaut has carried out 24 years of good and loyal services to travel the seas of the globe. From 1958 to 1982, it accumulated more than 32 000 hours of diving and traveled a distance equivalent to ten times the circumference of the Earth. See it Sous l’océan (under the ocean), at the Argonaut, Parc de la Villette, 19éme, every day except Mondays from 10h. to 18h. and on Sundays until 19h; admission between 9 and 12 Euros.

Christmas comes back to the parvis of the La Defénse from November 22nd. While the 250 chalets are being installed, for the 2018 edition. And as a good Frenchman, we have charitable associations participating this year. This is the Maison de l’amitié (house of Friendship), located near the Place Carpeaux square, which welcomes in daytime the homeless people of the Parisian association the La Cloche ( Bell) which mobilizes local businesses by encouraging them to make small services to persons in precariousness. There will also be the online platform Entourage, which federates the solidarity initiatives, and the missing link, which fights the food waste by retrieving the unsold ones from the shops to redistribute them immediately to the structures of reception.

The Satory-West Concerted Development Zone (ZAC), Versailles! on the horizon of 2035, will completely change the physiognomy of this area of 330 ha that is not used today, except by the military. The arrival of the train station of Line 18 of the Metro in 2030 which will act as a trigger and make this sector more virtuous in matters of transport and the environment. Located a few steps from the present Bir-Hakeim roundabout, on the road D91, this station should meet the needs of the thousands of inhabitants expected at its doorstep. To the North, 3 500 housing units facing South towards a tree park. The army will retain its stranglehold on this sector along the road N12. A new exchanger is in the works for 2025 between the D91 and N12. The transport agency DIRIF works on this subject in order to eliminate the influx of cars during peak hours on the ramp of the N12 and facilitate access to Satory without thwarting the flow going towards Versailles. Eventually, the huge current roundabout of the D91, which serves Satory west today, is simply called to disappear to give way to a bypass traffic near the subway station. To relieve the traffic coming from St Cyr l’école by the creation, by 2025, of a bus line on own site in the direction of Gare de Saint-Cyr. It will be based on the military railway, which joins the site of Matelots at Versailles. Just a bit of road transport news, which will remind me and those road warriors readers!

The farm or La ferme de Saint-Cyr-l’École in the Yvelines my old dept 78, offers individuals the right to pick up fruit and vegetables directly in the fields for years and something we used to do; great for the family and real good stuff direct from mother earth.

The Maison du Vietnam, ( Vietnam House), the quintessential Vietnamese deli, organizes two free and exceptional days that will water your mouths. On the program: exhibitions, concerts, tastings of local produce, savory and sweet dishes, and discovery of the Asian Dragon crafts. The opportunity to (re) discover the culinary, artistic and cultural traditions of this incredible country. Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November 2018 from 9h to 19h at 4, rue du Bourg l’Abbé 3éme Paris

Ok so it rains in Paris so what, the city is even more gorgeous in the rain ,and here are some tips to do otherwise : Rain in Paris is good news: This is a first advantage to rain: You no longer need to water your plants (at least those that survived without water for 3 weeks). We don’t need to wash the car anymore. You’re late all the time. So for once, enjoy the rain to have a good excuse to cancel an appointment or to arrive late at the party’. “I’m Singin’ ‘ in the rain, just Singin’ ‘ in the Rain.” Finally a good excuse to sing in the rain without being ridiculous. What could be more romantic than rain? Enjoy it to slip under the umbrella of your crushing mate… And why not try a rapprochement? The rain is charged with negative ions that limit pathologies such as asthma. Roughly speaking, it renews the air we breathe! It rains heavily, and you want to go outside to smoke? No, I can’t. Stay warm and use a good coffee. You can finally take out its finest wax and plastic boots; Since the time you bought it, we were really wondering when you were going to wear it! A sad advantage of the rain is to clean the Parisian streets of all their cigarette butts in the sewers. Next time, instead of throwing your butt on the floor, put it in the trash! Otherwise it’s 68€ fine. Are you having trouble falling asleep? Listen to the rain. Are you stressed? Listen to the rain. Are you melancholy? Listen to the rain. You…well anyway, you got it!. It’s time to react to enjoy the winds and tides of our beautiful city , dry of course. Reflex number one, the cinema. Second option: Expos or shopping. With the rain everything becomes super comforting. Do not be gloomy in the face of the boredom of rainy days. Yes, rain is a great reason to stay in bed in good! So enjoy the rain in Paris!!!

Know that there are 27 aerial stations, especially on métro lines 2 and 6, where you can discover incredible monuments, all without making any effort. And as said in my blog many times you come here whether visiting or in country because you want to see Paris above ground so do as I do use aerial metro stations or the bus! Here are something to make you change if not already!

13.6 km long, of which 6 km in above ground (or 45% of its route), Métro line 6 is the sixth busiest line of the network. It offers unique viewpoints on several monuments such as : the Pont de Bir-Hakeim, you can distinguish the Eiffel Tower dominating the Seine and l’île aux Cygnes (Swan Island). The Palais de Chaillot; the bell tower of the Church of Saint Augustine; the top of the canopy of the Grand Palais; the famous tour Montparnasse; the Invalides dome, the Francois Mitterand Library, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Maison de Radio France, before the Cambronne station, you can see the Invalides, then the Avenue de Breteuil on the Invalides before plunging back underground.

The Métro line 2 offers to a lesser extent points of view on Paris thanks to an aerial section between the stations Antwerp and Colonel Fabien. You can therefore observe, the Bassin and the rotunda of La Villette, the canal Saint-Martin, the Sacré-Coeur, the train station of Austerlitz, the National Museum of Natural History, the train station of Lyon, La Cité de la mode et du design ( city of fashion and design) , or the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

As said enjoy Paris above ground, simply the best most beautiful city in the world!

And to finish this short post …..ha ha ha. Let me tell you about a nice story and wonderful resto of my eternal Paris;really nice.

The story goes that after a career in agri-food, Alexandra Lepage founded, five years ago, the fine grocery store/restaurant Papa Sapiens. She is from the old Berry region but grew up in Kaysersberg, a small village of winegrowers, in Alsace. She first worked for eleven years at Kraft Foods, a huge group that is now called Mondelez (includes brands such as Côte d’Or, Suchard, Milka, Carte Noire, Jacques Vabre, Philadelphia, Carambar, Lu). And then she spent a year in the United States, where she discovered Mac and cheese, instant sauces, ultratransformed products. And realized that all of this was downright disgusting, she was really struggling to defend these products. It was the end of a cycle. On her return to France, she left her salaried job, and started organizing evenings, Alexandra’s dinners: Twelve Diners, a chef and an expert to talk about a topic. It was great, and not profitable at all. She ,then, partnered with her husband and two friends, and launched Papa Sapiens in 2013. Papa, for the unifying, paternalistic and somewhat outdated side. Sapiens, because we have the will to know, to transmit and to tell stories. This is what I like, in the kitchen and the good things: they are always beautiful stories. Papa Sapiens, Grocery-restaurant, at 24, rue Feydeau, 2éme Paris. More info here:  Papa Sapiens

Stay tune, Paris , France has always more and more and more! It’s eternal you know, and we love it , even if for living will say preferred Versailles lol! Cheers

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

November 12, 2018

A bit on the wines of Saint Emilion!

So let me tell you a bit about Bordeaux wines! huh! wait the title says Saint Emilion !!!  Yes, a bit of French international confusion. The whole area around the city of Bordeaux which covers a huge area can be call Bordeaux wines in its genetic form. Then, you have areas that can use their respective names for the better wines according to INAO the French wine regulatory agency in charge of guarding this National heritage indeed! Official INAO webpage in English

I will tell a bit on the Saint Emilion wines (very appropiate for this time of the year) that are on the right bank of the Dordogne river.  The town of Saint Emilion is in the Gironde department 33 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The oldest economic entity and very related to wines here is the Jurade , established in 1199 by Jean sans Terre, king of England. There were designated to delegates economic ,political, and judicial power, as well as nobles, and magistrates to guide the general administration of the town that was part of England at the time. In 1948, the winegrowers within the vineyards syndicate/union bring back the jurade in the form of a confrérie(brotherhood)  that becomes the ambassador of the wines of Saint Emilion in all the world. It is composed of 54 juras, it is administered by the Council of the Jurade which has 12 members including the 1st Jurat, the cleric, the great treasurer, the Great Baker, the Churchwarden ,who is the Master of Ceremonies.

Let me go now into what is happening there now, and I must confess I am a Bordeaux specialist if can say such a word with humility. I am diplomé on the wines of France and Spain, and have visited major houses in all major wine areas of the world, including some now never heard of like Yugoslavian and Cuban wines!  However, the Saint Emilion wines are not my favorite due to their over abundance of the Merlot (79%); even if also use the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (Bouchet here). Also, in minority of Malbec, petit Verdot and Carménère. The official site for the appellation is here: Official Wines of Saint Emilion

A bit on the explanation of Saint Emilion. It is dedicated to red wines, the vineyard of Saint-Émilion extends over 5200 hectares around the village of the same name, located some 40 km northeast of Bordeaux, on the right bank of the Dordogne river. The Saint-Émilion appellation is divided into two quality levels: the Saint-Émilions “Grand Cru” and the Simple Saint-Émilions. The latter can be produced throughout the territory of the appellation. They are simply subject to a quality label that is less demanding than the wines that aspire to the term “Grand cru”. In general, they are simpler wines and easier to access in their youth.   The term “Grand Cru” is considered to be a full-fledged appellation. The conditions for getting it are more stringent. Very heterogeneous in its production.

The ranking of Saint-Émilion was born a century after the historical ranking of the Médoc wines, in 1955. This nomenclature consists of three categories: first Grands crus classified “A”, first grands crus classified “B” and grands Crus classified. Contrary to the ranking of 1855, the Saint-Émilion is revisable every ten years, last in 2012 so next in 2022.

The ranking as of now are (in black those tasted by yours truly):  Premier Grand Cru Classé A : Château  ANGELUS ,Château AUSONE ,Château CHEVAL-BLANC, and Château PAVIE .


Grand cru classé :

And what is going on in the vineyards of France lately and especially in Saint Emilion, well many buys and sells going on and even by foreigners. Therefore, watch out the landscape of French wines are blending well to the world; after all the world simply copy our grapes, production methods, vinification, and marketing lol!

Olivier Decelle and his wife, Anne. This leader of the frozen supermarkets Picard fell into the wine into his 40’s. He first uncovers Maury, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, where he buys the mythical Mas Amiel, with his sweet wines that sell as well as two-seater coffins… before falling under the spell of Jean Faure, a neighboring Cheval Blanc and La Dominique , located at a stream of grape cluster from Pétrus. They purchase them in 2004 and,2006.

Peter Kwok, who buys properties like we put on beads. By becoming the owner of Château Bellefont-Belcier at the end of 2017, he is even the only Hong Kong businessman to head a cru classé of Saint-Emilion.   His first purchase dates from 1997 with the Château Haut-Brisson in Saint-Emilion. Then his acquisitions accelerated in 2012 with the Château La Tache (Pomerol) and the Château Tour Saint Christophe . Then, in 2015, the Château Tourans , and finally in 2016 Le Château le Rey (Castillon-Côtes-de-Bordeaux).

Denise and Stephen Adams also gave in to the sirens of the right bank by becoming owners in 2004 of the Château Fonplégade, they who also own the Château l’Enclos (Pomerol) and a vineyard in the Napa Valley.

Stephan von Neipperg, born of the nobility of the Holy Roman Empire, resides in Saint-Emilion since 1983 to manage its vineyard domains like Château Canon la Gaffelière, la Mondotte, Château d’Aiguilhe, Clos de l’Oratoire.etc .

Jean-François Quenin, former executive officer of Darty, at the head of a small jackpot following an LBO on the company, arrives in the Libourne with his wife, Dominique, from the region. In 1994, they first bought Pavillon Bel-Air, in Lalande-de-Pomerol, before buying the Château de Pressac in 1997. Even Jean-François Quenin still end up as president of the Saint-Emilion Wine Council.

Gérard Perse, in 1993, this self-taught businessman, head of four supermarkets and a hyper in the Parisian region, wine enthusiast, decides to buy the Château Montbousquet. The shocker was in 1998 when he was offered the Château Pavie ,   a mythical domain but somewhat neglected by its owners. To ensure its management, he moved permanently to Saint-Emilion with his wife and daughter. He has, in the meantime, added to his hunting table Pavie-Decesse, Bellevue-Mondotte and Le Clos-Lunelle.

Today, on a parcel of half a hectare downgraded from their Château La Gaffelière, the first Grand Cru classified B of the AOC Saint-Emilion, the Malet Roquefort family pays homage to the perfect square promoted by the poet. Fombrauge, the largest domain among the classified crus of the appellation with its 58.7 hectares of vineyards while the average of the prestigious properties on the AOC is close to 8 hectares.

Bérangère de Malet Roquefort-Petgesun is preparing long on a building with ticketing, cloakroom, shop, 3d projection room to share this archaeological treasure with the public. An ambitious project that would be part of the valorisation of the Domaine de Gaffelière undertaken for fifteen years.

It is Alain Vauthier , Château Canon and its vineyards enclosed with walls that bask in the sunset: 34 hectares of a single holding, 75% of Merlot, 25% of cabernet, roots anchored in the rock. It is the plateau pure and hard. It is the limestone that brings freshness, minerality and tension to wines of great sophistication. He has been dubbed “El Gaucho de Saint-Emilion” since his return from Argentina where he spent ten years commissioned by Pierre Lurton to launch in orbit Cheval des Andes. A marriage between the prestigious first Cru classé A of Saint-Emilion and Terrazas de los Andes, owned by Moët-Hennessy. A success for the handsome of the vineyards then recruited by the House Chanel to direct Château Canon and Château Berliquet, another grand Cru of the AOC. While watching over Rauzan-Ségla in Margaux.

Jean-Valmy Nicolas, co-manager of the Château Conseillante, emblematic family property of 12 hectares directly adjacent to Pétrus on the appellation Pomerol. Its has the peculiarity to be managed for fifteen years by a family council on the mode of an PME (small company legal setup in France) with reporting, newsletter, meeting every four months, decisions explained and taken together attests its president, himself finance person in Paris. A professionalism doubled in a sense of the family business which it is worth to have been called by Marie-France Manoncourt and her four daughters at the bedside of Château Figeac, first Grand Cru classified as early as 1955 of the AOC Saint-Émilion in their family since 1892. Figeac is one of the historic properties of Saint-Emilion. Fifty-four hectares of which 41 devoted to the vineyard planted in large part of Cabernet on three hills of alluvial and serious sand. But Figeac these are also 13 hectares of a Centennial Park considered as a room of the house by Blandine and Hortense Manoncourt.

Jean-Luc Thunevin, one of the most atypical personalities of the AOC. While he knew nothing about the vineyard, he went into debt in 1989 to 100% to buy 60 ares in a Valley which he baptized Château Valandraud. Val for Valley, Andraud in honor of his wife, Murielle Andraud. Today, Château Valandraud is 8.88 hectares. Thunevin lives in Saint-Emilion, a village he adores. He owns his office, his house, I don’t know how many wine shops there.

In five years, 25% of the 82 Crus Classés from Saint-Emilion have changed hands. Nearly 180 million euros were reported to have been disbursed in July 2017 by the Scor Reinsurance Group for Château Troplong-Mondot, a first classified grand Cru.!

See the overall side on Bordeaux wines about Saint Emilion in English: Official Bordeaux wines on Saint Emilion

And yes, Saint Emilion is a town with its own city /town hall as here: City of Saint Emilion on its wines

Enjoy Bordeaux, simply the best, the one all others still follow and try to imitate. However, take a look at the niche in Saint Emilion. Cheers

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!




November 10, 2018

World War I or the Great War

This is a special post on a special commemoration that has started today and will climax tomorrow. I thank from the bottom of my heart all those men , women and their respective countries who had fought in this so called World War I or as we know better in France, the Great War.

Je remercie tous ces hommes et ces femmes et leurs pays respectifs pour leurs efforts et leur sacrifice dans cette grande guerre au nom de ma famille, et le peuple français.

In this terrible war ,1.4 million French military personnel lost their lives in the Great War. Their condecoration are understood to be under the words , “Deaths for France” identified by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. Created in 1915, this reference is attributed to soldiers killed in combat or died as a result of their injuries. Soldiers who are reformed, shot, died of illnesses or victims of accidents are excluded.

The facts:
On September 25, 1915, with a double offensive in Artois and Champagne, was the deadliest day of the war for the French Army, with more than 25 000 deaths. More than a quarter of the soldiers killed are before their 23 years.

The Battle of Verdun, which began on February 21, 1916, stood out: The number of deaths in one day did not equal the previous clashes, but it was one of the first German offensives since 1914, and it lasted much longer. It strikes the spirits deeply. It was “The Battle of France for France, against the German aggression, the place where France shows all its soul and its ardour”

The comparison with the Battle of the Somme, which begins on July 1, 1916, is thus revealing. The French losses were important, but the offensive, led by the British, was much less imbued with collective memory.

The deadly clash of the  Chemin des Dames or Ladies ‘ Way, which was to be the last major offensive of the war, marks the year 1917 until the end of October. The War of Motion resumed in 1918, with several German offensives in Picardy, and Champagne. The Germans wanted to win the victory fast before the Americans, who had just entered the war, were lining up too many troops on the front. The general counter-offensive of the Allies led them to the Armistice.

The death of these young men has profoundly marked the French society, reversing the order of generations and disturbing the birth rate. More than a million births were never caught up, so that in 1939 France became the oldest country in the world, notes François Heran of the National Institute for Population Studies (INED) in an April 2014 publication.

The events:

From Saturday morning  (November 10th) at 11h (11am), the French president E Macron will received his American counterpart Donald Trump for a bilateral exchange.  The exchange was expected to be tense. The two men had to exchange on European strategic capabilities. President Macron has just suggested that Europe should build its own army to protect itself from the United States, China and Russia. President Trump responded in his usual way “Very insulting but perhaps Europe should first pay its share to NATO that the US subsidizes widely!”, had tweeted the US president Friday night at the time of landing in Paris.  Bit of errors on M . Macron already critized in France for comparing Gen Petain efforts in WWI with his treason in WWII. On Saturday afternoon, Emmanuel Macron travelled to Compiègne, Oise, before being joined by Angela Merkel, for a commemorative ceremony at the Clearance of Rethondes.

But it is Sunday that the commemorations of  November 11 centennial will know their true culmination. In total, some 85 heads of State and government-including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin-will be meeting at the end of the morning at the Arc de Triomphe to attend a one-hour ceremony.  Emmanuel Macron will give a speech of about ten minutes, in which he wants to resound France 2018 with that of 1918 and insist on the importance of multilateralism for peace. Hopefully with a better speech ….

It is also the theme of “peace” which will be in the spotlight in the afternoon, since 75 foreign leaders will be gathered at the Grande Halle de la Villette (19éme) for a “Forum on Peace” organized at the initiative of France but with UN participation. President Trump is not scheduled to be at this meeting.

As one other person so vividly say it and I copy:  Remember this day. November 11 is far more important than 9/11 or 12/7. It’s much more important than Memorial Day or Labor Day. This Remembrance Day is to keep in mind that ungodly slaughter of 1914-1918 and the war spawned by its hateful end, 1939-1945. We owe it to each other, our children, and their children’s children to never let anything like that happen again. Amen

ps Special thanks for my American friends and family Belleau Wood, fields of courage , the first taste of war for the doughboys!

Enjoy your Sunday, we have a lot to be thankful for nowdays.

November 10, 2018

The high places of pilgrimage in France!

And why not this piece after all , it is said by one well known personality of France’s heritage Stéphane Bern that the 92 million visitors (on a running year to October) coming to France are here to see the accomplishements of the previous Monarchies and one particular part of this tradition is the Christian faith. I am a subscriber to M. BERN magazine and participate on his efforts to safeguard these monuments. I have, also, met him in person in Paris. You can read more on the magazine he heads Secrets d’Histoire (subscription gift of my dear late wife Martine) at Official Secrets d’Histoire webpage

Without going into thesis and validation, and concentrating only on the main sites of visitors/pilgrims here, let me give you a run down. Worth visiting all of them of course. And remember the poilus of WWI, tomorrow is their big day to give Thanks. Fitting to post this now.

Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées : When between 11 Feb and 18 jul 1858 Bernadette Soubirous see 18 apparitions in the grotto of Massabielle along the pau river and 160 years later this site has become the first Catholic pilgrimage in France with each year receiving between 3-4 million visitors. See the Basilica Notre Dame du Rosaire and above the esplanade the Basilica of the Immaculate ConceptionLourdes

Rocamadour, Lot: On the valley of the Alzou since the Middle Ages pilgrims after climbing 216 steps to the sanctuary to cultivate the Black Virgin. The sources unknown as well as that of the hermit Amadour of which body was found intact in 1166 in front of the Chapel of the Virgin Mary. The pilgrims come by way of Puy-en-Velay or the one leaving from Bénévent-l’Abbaye (Creuse). Rocamadour

Mont Sainte Odile Bas-Rhin: The pilgrims come to venerate the Patron Saint of Alsace born blind in the 12C. She was given vision by the baptismal waters from which comes her name Odile means the daughter of light, and she became the abbesse of the convent that was raised here by her father, Duke of Alsace , Etichon-Adalric . The route of pilgrims takes you from Ottrott, the climb is difficult but with a beautiful panorama of the plains of Alsace, the Rhine river, the Black Forest as well as the chain of the Vosges mountains. Mont Sainte Odile

Chartres, Eure-et-Eure: The Cathedral of Chartres more than any other sanctuary invites you to arrive on foot ; you can come on the itinerary created by Charles Péguy in 1912-13. You can see the belltower from the plains at a great distance. You need an entire day to see the 9 gates decorated with more than 2500 statues! On the interior the stained glass is wonderfully beautiful, and the medieval enclosure of the choir, the great organs, and kneel before the relic scarf of the Virgin, statue of Notre Dame du Pilier as well as in the crypt like the one of Notre Dame-de-Sous-Terre. In the nave, the labyrenth done on Fridays from careme to all saints day. Chartres

La Saint-Baume Var: Pilgrims comes by the the way of Kings because it was taken by at least 40 monarchs since Saint Louis in 1254 to Louis XIV in 1660. The way starts at the Basilica of Saint-Maximin about 15km away where the skull of Marie Magdalene is exposed. However, it is only guided coming from Nans-le-Pins halfway here; and most pilgrims only do the last couple of km from Trois Chênes. Once arrived you see a sumptuous panorama looking at the Sainte Victoire and on cliffs you see the grotto where Mary Magdalene spent her last 30 years. It is said that seven times per day she was raised by the angels of Saint-Pilon where today lies a Chapel, the strongest pilgrims do this route when not too much wind and rain. You can then go down by the road chemin du Canapé and reach the hotel where the Dominicans guard the sanctuary since 1295 and host the pilgrims. Sainte Baume

Vézelay, Yonne: This is the inspired hill as this hill the spirit blows harder. The Basilica is dedicated to Mary Magdaleine where some of the assumed relics are kept in the crypt. Here the pilgrim will be astounded by the beauty of Roman art where the land and the heavens speaks along a game of lights to see the soltice. You can hear the chants of the monks that rhyme with the hours of the day. Vézelay

Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Bouches du Rhône: The story here begins at the beginning of Christianity when the Christians were persecuted in the year 45AD It was here where the Rhine meets with the Mediterranean that were appear the three Marys’s (Mary Solomé mother of St James, Mary Magdaleine, and Mary Jacobian ) accompanied by Lazarus, Martha, Maximin ,their servant Sara and a few others. The pilgrimage of travelled people is the most known here in the month of May, a huge crowd accompanied the gypsies towards the sea escorted by provençal guardians on horseback. Saintes Maries de la Mer

Lisieux, Calvados:  The Basilica of Lisieux built in 1954 is the second largest pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes. Here we venerates the relics of one of the biggest Saint of the 19C, Theresa Martin that entered the Carmelites and took the name of Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She was also known as the little Theresa as she trace a spiritual life of childhood that has given her the title of Doctor of the Church and secondary Patron Saint of France. There are over a million visitors each year here, making the 3rd most visited place after the Landing Beaches of Normandy ,and Mont Saint Michel. Lisieux

Sainte Anne d’Auray , Morbihan: This one is very close to me (12 km) and all true on the expectations and crowds. It was a humble laborer of the land Yves Nicolazic that the Mother Virgin Mary appeared from 1623 to 1625 asking to built a Chapel that was promise in the 6C. At the spot , Yves digs a hole and finds a small wooden Virgin figure on the spot called Ker Anna or the village of Anna in Breton. Too small to welcome the crowds of the faithful it was replaced in the 16C by a Basilica of Sainte Anne d’Auray. Each year as much as 500K persons come here by July 25-26; the procession is huge with Breton songs and costumes   bagpipe bands and banners. It is the Patron Saint of Brittany and call the Mamm Gozh ar Vretoned or the grandmother of the Bretons. The Bible tells us she is the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. Sainte Anne d’Auray

The Mont Saint Michel, Manche: The pilgrims arrived by the northern flank and crossed the Bay with the help of guides. The crossing in moving sand is to show the troubles of life and to overcome it. You ,then climb the rock and visit the Church of St Peter and keep climbing until the arrow steep on the western terrace with a great view of the Bay. The songs of the monks incite you to walk on the abbey Church and discovered the Chapel of Notre Dame-Sous-Terre that replaced the sanctuary done first in 708AD by Saint Aubert . The site covers 13 centuries of history, and the spirit of the angel St Michael is here. Mont Saint Michel

Le Puy-en-Velay , Haute-Loire: The Cathedral de l’Annociation is together with Chartres the oldest Marian sanctuary in the Christian Gaul. The Virgin appeared in the 5C helping a suffering women to laid for rest on a stone flatbed, this stone call the Stone of Fevers is today inside the Cathedral. The pilgrims came to see the Black Virgin a statue from the 17C that replaced the original medieval statue; It is in this town, a departing point for the Route of St James. However, before doing the walk the pilgrims followed three ascentions. One the rock of Corneille where since 1860 lies the statue of Notre Dame de France; the rock of St Michel d’Aiguilhe that takes you to a roman Chapel dedicated to the Archangel. Finally, in the upper town you take the rue des Tables that leads you to the Cathedral where you will received benediction. From here the road of Puy-en-Velay awaits you for the trip to Santiago , St James 1600 km farther. Le Puy en Velay

These are the most popular places of pilgrimage in France, and folks from around the world do come. There is no better way to know the history, traditions, architecture, and customs of France then by visiting these high places. Enjoy them all!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

November 8, 2018

Barrio de las Letras or Huertas, Madrid!

So much on France why not my other love Spain! Yes been around and citizen of both, thanks to wife and grandparents on both sides of the fence lol! I used to lived in Madrid too ,and now visit at least once or more per year since 1982.

Let me tell you a bit about one of the most popular places or neighborhoods there for years. In fact so much fashionable to visit , it may not be considered a local spot by many including me. Nevertheless, it is a must if you visit Madrid. Let me do this update on my black and white series, no pictures.

I like to dwell on the history, as there are too many things to see, and party on it too lol! This is the neighborhood or Barrio de las Letras or oldest known as Huertas.

The neighborhood (Barrio) of Huertas is almost the oldest area of Madrid. Its old route forced in 2006 to initiate a process of pedestrianization of the zone. The neighborhood of the letters(barrio de las Letras or Huertas), also called of the literati and of the muses, is an area without administrative entity of Madrid in the Centro district. The area is bounded to the west by Calle de la Cruz and Plaza de Jacinto Benavente; To the east, by Paseo del Prado; To the north, by the Carrera de San Jéronimo; and, to the south, by Calle Atocha. During the low Middle Ages this area was destined to agricultural uses, the orchards being typical because there was plenty of water. In fact, we know that in the times of Enrique IV (15C) most of them belonged to the Marquis of Castañeda. A large part of these fields were engulfed by the urban plot in the 16C, but the historical memory has made the name of the orchards (Huertas) prevail to the present day. Even thus nowdays it is best known as Letras (Letters).

The best known of the neighborhood is the Plaza Santa Ana and Calle de las Huertas. The neighborhood runs from Puerta del Sol to Calle Atocha and descends to Paseo del Prado. It is a neighborhood known for its nightlife; It is one of the leisure areas to have a few drinks. The pubs and discotheques abound in the Calle de las Huertas, Plaza Santa Ana, Calle Santa Cruz and the parallel streets. Calle de las Huertas, after which the area has taken its common name, is a pedestrian street which verses the neighborhood and bears modern-day inscriptions in its cobblestones from the famous authors who once resided on or near it. The Street was named as such Huertas meaning orchards or gardens because of those which it once led to.  It is also called Barrio de las Letras because it has great theatrical activity and because its streets are named after the authors of the Golden Age, Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Góngora, who lived in these streets (there are commemorative plaques on every street). It is said that Góngora lived in the current Calle Leon and the rest in their respective streets.

The neighborhood was also home to some of the first comedy playsgrounds, in particular the Teatro de la Cruz, which was located in Plaza del Ángel, and the Corral del Principe, which still functions today under the same roof as the Teatro Español.  Although the majority of the properties that are preserved were built in the late 19C and early 20C, from the time of the Golden Age have survived the House-Museum of Lope de Vega, where the writer lived between 1610 and 1635 and open to the public as a house-museum; The Convent of San Ildefonso of the Barefoot Trinitarians, where Cervantes was buried; And the Church of San Sebastián.

In the number 87 of Calle Atocha, one of the roads that limit the neighborhood, was the printing of Juan de la Cuesta, where he made the edition Principe (Prince) of the first part of Don Quixote of La Mancha (1604), considered the masterpiece of Spanish literature.

To the 18C correspond the Palace of the Count of Tepa, the Royal Academy of History and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madrid. Other constructions of architectural interest are the Teatro Español, the Simeon Building and the Ateneo de Madrid. They are in the neighborhood of the Ateneo (Calle de las Huertas), the Circulo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts), corner with Calle de Alcalá, the Teatro de la Comedia (comedy). Also its on the border with the Congress of the Spanish Deputies, and , also the Palace of the Dukes of Santoña, Convent Saint Iidefonso of the Trinitarians barefoot, where learned the daughters of Lope de Vega and Cervantes, who also was buried here, the old Palace of the Marquises De Hoyos (current headquarters of the Academy of History). The artistic venues such as Caixa Forum and a few minutes on foot are the Thyssen Museum and the Prado Museum.

Due to its location and the large number of hotels which line its streets, Huertas/Letras is popular with both locals and tourists alike; virtually any night of the week is ideal for experiencing what it has to offer. The most important thing to keep in mind when going out for the evening is to be aware is the schedule. Remember that since in Madrid it’s customary to have dinner between 21h-23h (9pm-11pm), the night spots won’t be really going until some time after that, usually staying open until 03h (3am) and in some cases even later until sunrise.

The connection here is done with metro stations Sol, Sevilla, Atocha, Tirso de Molina, Antón Martín , on lines 1, 2, 3. Of course, the best way to get here is to walk from anywhere in central Madrid.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Tourist office of Madrid on heritage

Tourist office of Madrid on nighlife

There you go a wonderful neighborhood to set up while visiting lovely Madrid, the city of Spain.  And remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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November 7, 2018

Unique RAE, Madrid!

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November 7, 2018

Some news from Spain LXX

So back to sunny Spain at least most of the time … we are still semi cloudy in my Breton Morbihan, light rain today but stop now, and temps in around last check 11C or about 52F.

So why not bring you up to some wonderful news from my beloved Spain ok

Three hundred record  covers, dozens of lysergic posters and a powerful catalogue with small essays on the time. They are the strong offering of the exhibition ‘ Psychodelia in the visual culture of the beat era  1962-1972 ‘, organized by the Circle of Fine Arts in Madrid and open until January 20, 2019

The book ‘Biografía de la humanidad‘, (human biography by ) José Antonio Marina and Javier Rambaud  We have come to the same conclusion, but with a cautious warning. One of the uncomfortable teachings of history is that advances that seemed safe can disappear. Modern democracy has expanded into three waves. From 1828 to 1926; From 1945 to 1960, and from 1974, with the revolution of the carnations. In this third wave there is the Spanish democracy. The first two stopped with the emergence of dictatorial and authoritarian movements in many countries, and begins to worry about the idea that the same could happen with the third. Many scientists are alarmed and think that the march towards democracy has stopped and we can go back to 1930.

The second book I want to comment on is ‘ Como mueren las Democracias ‘ (How the democracies die ), by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, recently published by Ariel. Their thesis is similar to that of the previous book. Democracies can end in two ways: by military coups or at the hands of elected leaders who subvert the same process that led them to power.

The title of the showing, Después del 68. Arte y prácticas artísticas en el País Vasco (After 68. Art and artistic practices in the Basque Country)’, would already be the obvious if you want to take a tour of the Basque artistic panorama of the last half century. Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao. In this case, about 150 creations of a hundred artists from different generations say, and much, in their different artistic expressions, be it painting, sculpture, photography, installations, video art and work on paper.

The mythical lands of Galicia;

Teixedal de Casaio . Enter the one that is possibly the oldest forest in Galicia has a deeply spiritual character. It is located in the depths of the already eccentric region of Valdeorras. A land of excellent wines but especially marked by its breathtaking slate mines. It is made up of three hundred yew trees, many of them centenarians, surrounded by rowans, ash and hazel trees.

Fragas do Eume with its 9000 hectares of surface, is not only the great Atlantic Forest of Galicia, but also the most sacred, as still attested by the impressive remains of the monastery of Aveiro, hidden in a meander of the river Eume, in the depths of this Natural Sanctuary. In addition to oaks, strawberries trees, holly and centenary chestnut trees, it includes more than 20 species of ferns and 200 of lichens.

Bosque de Santa Eulalia de Bovéda, between Lugo and Friol, in a very little busy area is hidden a beautiful carballeira or what is the same, a forest of oaks, framed by enigmatic stone walls covered with moss and lichen. Inside it is kept a secret, protected by one of the best preserved villages of Galicia, the sanctuary of Santa Eulalia de Boveda of Roman origin that still nobody has known to decipher but what marvel, with its paintings and engravings in stone, to all that it must be visit.

The World Cheese Awards, recognize every year the best cheeses in the world. The competition, held in Bergen, Norway, has valued 3,472 cheeses from 41 different countries. This year’s winner was the Norwegian Fanaost (Gouda type). This is the Spanish cheeses included in the best 16 list.    Maxorata semicurado con Pimentón, Grupo Ganaderos de Fuerteventura, (semi cured cheese from Canary island of Fuerteventura) ,  La Reserva, Quesería Entrepinares , Formatge Madurat, Formatges Mas El Garet, queso de cabra , a goat cheese from Catalunya.

The chocolate hearts or palms are fashionable. This sweet of French origin, elaborated with puff pastry, a peculiar heart form  and covered only on one side of cocoa is long ago one of the most demanding pieces in the patisseries of Madrid

The secret of the palm tree produced by Ricardo Vélez in this pastry in front of the Retiro Park is chocolate. Instead of the traditional cover bath, we use a chocolate glaze Guanaja 70% that remains flux 12 hours after the coverage. Moulin Chocolat price  2.80 euros.located at calle de  Alcalá, 77.

La Duquesita is one of the oldest patisseries in Madrid. Crunchy puff pastry and black chocolate that melts in the mouth. price 2.95 euros.located at Calle Fernando VI, 2.

The classic El Horno de San Onofre is among the classics and, without a doubt, one of the best patisseries in Madrid. For the chocolate palm, we use chocolate Grand Crus. This tempered coverage is poured on the puff pastry, of first quality, tasty and with its just point of crisp the cocoa used was destined to the elaboration of chocolates candies and with a surplus was used for this sweet. Thus, we can say that this is the authentic palm-candy. Price: 2.50 euros.Located at Calle San Onofre, 3.

his historic Madrid house of the Calle Mayor, founded at the end of the 19C, reopens its doors maintaining its essence of an  illustrated tavern. Classics of the house, like the Pepitoria, had lost much of its luster, with a very aged staff and a routine kitchen, trend accentuated after the death in 2015 of its owner for half a century, the popular Godofredo Chicharro. The resurrection of the Casa Ciriaco is  great news for Madrid because this tavern, existing since the late 19C and renamed in 1929 by its owner then, Ciriaco Muñoz, is part of the history of this city and its modest but endearing form of gastronomy. Refuge of bullfighters, painters and literati, it hosted for many decades the meals with Tertulia of the Friends of Julio Camba, who was one of it loyal clients. The stamp of the dishes is Antonio Mingote, watercolor with the facade of the restaurant is of Grau Santos… An era of Madrid culture decorates the walls. Well, Casa Ciriaco has reopened and we owe it to two well merited partners who know what it is to keep alive the tradition of the Classic tavern of Madrid: Alfonso Delgado, and Daniel Waldburger, manager of the also historic Casa del Abuelo. Good dishes: endive salad, tomato, ajada and ham; The classic scrambled Julio Camba of potato and egg, the above hen and the asparagus Lope de Vega with paprika and egg. The dishes are even better: the mollejitas, the shoulder of lamb and the squid in its ink. It return to a better past than the one we have had before.  Casa Ciriaco, Calle Mayor 84 closed Sundays night and Mondays.

In 2015, the National Dance Company  premiered Don Quixote, the first classical ballet to be staged after 25 years, in the version of its director, José Carlos Martínez, following the classic of Marius Petipa. After his success, which led him to be spared in the next season and to refill the theaters, Martinez now dares with a new traditional ballet, The Nutcracker, which arrives at the Teatro Real with only six functions, after its absolute premiere in Pamplona. The creation and premiere of this piece, in 1892, at the Teatro Mariinsky in St. Petersburg, was due to the sum of authorship of great names of the moment and although it was the face B of a program of two compositions of Tchaikovsky, starring the opera Iolanta , surpassed it in success and transcendence. The story of The Nutcracker, in which its protagonist, the girl Clara, of the German family Stahlbaum, receives as Christmas gift from her mysterious godfather Herr Drosselmeyer a nutcracker doll, who becomes a handsome prince and takes her to a dream country. Starring in the premiere of the first dancers Cristina Casa, as Clara; Alessandro Riga, in the character of The Nutcracker Prince; Ion Aguirretxe, as Drosselmeyer; Haruhi Natoi, in the Sugar Fairy, and Angel Miller, as his knight, the ballet is shown as located in Germany of 1910, transcendental moment before WWI. Go see it at the Teatro Real, Plaza de Isabel II, s/n: until Saturday 10 November,sorry for the short notice.

Some of the cemeteries of Madrid as many of you are into visiting these places lol! I have been to San Isidro and Almudena ok;;; scary places indeed.

Cementerio de San Isidro , it is one of the most important and spectacular cemeteries of Spain, for its artistic value and the high number of elements existing in the funerary monuments. It is located in the district of Carabanchel  at Paseo de la Ermita del Santo, 78 and was built in 1811 (it is the oldest in Madrid). Located behind the hermitage of San Isidro on the so-called Cerro de las Animas, it gathers masterpieces of the most renowned artists of the architecture, of the sculpture and of the painting of Spain of the 19C and 20C.

Cementerio de La Almudena, It is the largest cemetery in Madrid by Avenida  de Daroca, 90, and is divided into three parts: the Necropolis, the original cemetery and the enlargement. The necropolis, surrounded by gardens, is accessed by the impressive portico of entrance, of modernist style with Neo-mudéjar influence. Inside you will find the chapel, a beautiful building with a basilica shape, of a Greek cross. To the east, the primitive cemetery is extended, inaugurated provisionally in 1884 on the occasion of the cholera epidemic, with capacity for 23,808 burials. An enlargement was approved in 1955.

Sacramental de San Justo, San Millán y Santa Cruz : Separated by a wall of the cemetery of San Isidro is located this cemetery , Paseo de la Ermita del Santo, 70, built in 1847 in the Cerro de las Animas. In 1902, the Association of Writers and Artists built the Pantheon where to guard and to gather the ashes of the most illustrious personages in the letters and the arts. There are José de Espronceda, Mariano José de Larra and Eduardo Rosales, among others. In addition, the remains of composers Federico Chueca and Ruperto Chapí and Vicente Palmaroli rest in this necropolis. Highlights are the graves of Ana Maria Delgado Briones, better known as Anita Delgado, who was Maharani of Kapurthala, and Pastora Imperio.

Panteón de los Hombres Ilustres (Pantheon of famous men) , Inside a beautiful building of Byzantine style, built between 1892 and 1899, next to the Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha, are the graves of personalities of Spanish political life from the late 19C and early 20C. They highlight the spectacular mausoleums and funerary monuments-erected by maestros such as Mariano Benlliure and Agustín Querol as well as by José Canalejas, Eduardo Dato, Antonio Cánovas del Castillo… Real works of art I am told. Calle Julián Gayarre, 3. Free admission. Open from 10h to 14h and from 16h to 18h30. Sundays and Public holidays, from 10h  to 15h. Mondays, closed.

Cementerios Civil y Hebreo , (Civil and Hebrew cemetery). A royal order of 1883 obliged all the deceased non-Catholics of the place to be buried in the Civil Cemetery, integrated Cemetery in that of the Almudena, on the other side of the avenue of Daroca. Its entrance is flanked by the graves of Dolores Ibárruri, Pasionaria, and the founder of the PSOE and the UGT, Pablo Iglesias, in a neoclassical and columnist pantheon. In front of them are buried in different mausoleums three presidents of the Ist Republic: Estanislao Figueras, Francisco Pi y Margall and Nicolás Salmerón. The remains of other illustrious people, such as Pío Baroja or Blas de Otero, also lie there. The various epitaphs and symbols that adorn some tombstones are very important. Free admission. Opens from 8h  to 19h30. Separated by a fence is the small Hebrew cemetery, of 1922. It crosses a central corridor covered with trees and on both sides are located the graves adorned with stars of David or the menorah (chandelier or seven-arm oil lamp). This one is also integrated in the Almudena. For visits to both you can call ahead at +34 915 108 464.

Cementerio Británico, (British cemetery).  Also called the English Cemetery, it is owned by the British government since 1854. Located in Carabanchel district at Calle Commander Fontanes, 7, it was built to bury individuals of British nationality who, when frequently belonging to another confession, could not be buried in Catholic cemeteries. It’s beautiful gardens and monuments are sufficient reasons to visit it ,so they tell me. It houses about 600 graves and the enclosure also has a small burial chapel and a Neo-egipcian style pantheon belonging to a family of bankers. Buried there are also famous restaurateurs from Madrid, such as the Boetticher or the Lhardy. Free admission. Open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 10h30 to 13h.

Cementerio de La Florida . Of small dimensions and surrounded by a masonry wall in Toledo rig, this cemetery is located on the Paseo del Rey, 3, southwest of the Parque del Oeste. In a mass grave, in a crypt under a small chapel, are buried the remains of the 43 victims shot in the early morning of May 3, 1808 by the soldiers of the French general Joseph Murat, at the foot of the mountain of Principe Pio. At the side, there is a commemorative column and three tombstones reminiscent of the shootings. In the Florida cemetery, in one of the columns on the tomb of the remains of those shot by the French in 1808, there is a reproduction in tiles of the painting of Goya “The shootings of May 3 “, inaugurated in 1982. The cemetery remains closed all year, except on May 2, the day of the community of Madrid. But you can see it from the outside.

And let’s close on a lighter fresh note, that is wines of Castilla y Léon and Galicia!

At Bierzo the wines without DO but with IGP such as the zone of Barbanza-Iria are coming out good indeed. The main one is the Estaladiña 2016 by Grégory Pérez. This is the winery Mengoba of Gregorio Pérez   ,the  Estaladiña 2016 about 27 euros, Region of Castilla Y Léon, Bierzo, avenida del Parque 7, San Juan de Carracedo, tel  +34 649 940 800 email : , webpage

After starting in El Bierzo in Luna Beberide, the Bordelais Grégory Pérez-attracted to the country of his ancestors by his fellow winemaker Eduardo García, became independent 10 years ago and created his small bodega Mengoba, with old vines in Espanillo. It has developed a great work recovering the native breed, and almost unknown, Estaladiña. Its traditional cut wines and elaborated with minimal manipulation have gained a growing reputation.

And the Adega Entre Os Rios, with its Vulpes Vulpes  2016 for 15.euros; From Galicia, Lugar de Entre os Rios, no 2, A Pobra do Caraminal, A Coruna, tel +34 607 81 78 76 ; email  and webpage:

And the Albaríno (locally call raposo, and in the north of Galicia, branco lexítimo),show another potential that expresses very well in the Vulpes Vulpes of  Adega Entre Os Rios(winery).  The winery is located in the geographic center of the Rías the IGP Viños da Terra do Barbanza e Iria; a very good White albarino wine área indeed.

And there you go another dandy week in Spain, everything under the Sun!! Enjoy it

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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November 5, 2018

Some news from France CXCXVIII

So here back with some news of my belle France! The weather is still cloudy and cool at  14C in my neck of the woods of Morbihan, and in eternal Paris is 17C  with more sunshine at 16h or 4pm. There are many events leading up to the commemoration of WWI or the Great War as it is known here.

In the course of this week’s events, here are some of my favorites news.

Emmanuel Macron embarks on a new marathon. This past Sunday in Strasbourg, the president embarked on a week-long journey in the footsteps of the Great War (WWI), from Verdun to the Somme. The purpose of this roaming, as the Elysée calls it, is to go to meet our ancestors the poilus, these some eight million who fought from 1914 to 1918. In total, Emmanuel Macron will visit 11 departments and 17 cities. The president will visit the sites of the war but also go to territories. These are Strasbourg, Morhange, Pont-à-Monsoon, Pompy, Les Eparges, Verdun, Reims, Charleville-Mézières, Rozoy-sur-Serres, La Flamegrie, Feignions, Maubeuge, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Lens, Albert, Péronne, Compiègne, and Paris. In black ,towns that I have been to. Unfortunately, this is also part of politics with some rumblings going on now here, and some visitor coming now not so strong after Merkel of Germany decided not to run for re election, and the USA election tomorrow for Congress seats.

According to the management of Disneyland Paris; Star Wars, the Snow Queen and Marvel: The Disney galaxy will still grow in Marne-La-Vallée. By 2025, the three new universes of Disneyland Paris will open to the millions of visitors of the amusement parks of Chessy (Seine-et-Marne 77); Three public meetings are scheduled for Tuesday evening and on 14 and 22 November to inform the population of the Val d’Europe for the construction restrictions. The Marvel universe will serve as the European base of the Avengers ‘s  headquarters.  They will remake Rock’n’Roller coaster to create an experience against evil, alongside Ironman. On the Snow Queen, the town of Arendelle must be recreated with attractions where our visitors can meet their favorite character. And on Star Wars, they are going to create an immersive place where our visitors will live like in a galaxy. From 2019 until 2025, the three new worlds will be set up in the second park, the Walt Disney Studios. With 31 ha to be set up (12 ha for new attractions, 8 ha for backstage, 11 ha for construction site and road), the expectations in terms of employment are enormous. Hopes that this extension will promote longer stays of tourists on the area as well as the construction of new hotels. More on Disneyland Paris here:

Victoria’s Secret, The famous American lingerie brand, will it open in 2019 its first French flagship on the Champs-Elysées? The experts believe this news is credible. The Italian group Percassi, owner of the 1 500 m2 of the Queen’s premises, closed since April 2018, would first consider installing a Kiko make-up shop. But commercial experts believe that the surface would be too big for such a sign. Hence the theory on the installation at this location of a Victoria’s Secret shop, of which the Percassi group holds the license. Victoria’s Secret is rich in 1 200 stores around the world including a small shop at Orly Airport as well as at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport since last May.

As of this Monday (today), November 5, you can see trains of the tramway T3b circulate between the Porte de la Chapelle and Asnières, the extension of the tramway of the Maréchaux  which will actually enter into commercial service on November 24th 2018. More on the line and tramways of Paris here:

Meaux,  my dear late wife Martine native town, something wonderful for the lovers of good cheese, the Brie de Meaux ! This past Sunday the dean of the Brotherhood of Brie de Meaux blows the candle of the birthday cake of the Maison du Brie de Meaux. The small museum in the Episcopal city celebrated its second anniversary this past Sunday. More on it here:

In Saint-Germain-en-Laye, (Yvelines 78) the  l’Apothicairerie  Royale (Royal apothecary) reveals its treasures until the end of March 2019, you will discover these pots of the 17C and  18C in which the apothecaries concoction their remedies.

For the lovers of good wine: This past October 22nd, one of the largest castles in Pauillac obtained the Ecocert France certification, which validates the production of organic wines. A first in the closed circle of the prestigious areas of Bordeaux. Unofficially, this wine has been for at least three years, obligatory conversion time to obtain the Ecocert France certification, but the body that validates the production of organic wines has just delivered its precious decision. Château Latour will be officially organic from the 2018 vintage. The work carried out by the château, which has been owned by François Pinault since 1993, marks a real turning point. The figures are there which show that the train is en route. On the wine expert blog of  “Côté Châteaux” of France 3 Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Jean-Pierre Stahl points out that 15% of all the classified crus of 1855 are now switched to organic, when the whole vineyard of Bordeaux is still only 8%. Another locomotive will soon leave the station: Château Margaux, one of the five largest on the left bank, is also in conversion. More on Latour here:

The Fondation Henri Cartier- Bresson inaugurates tomorrow November 6th the more spacious premises in Paris with a retrospective of Martine Franck. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) signed unforgettable portraits of his contemporaries, but himself refused to be photographed, and he pulled a knife out of his pocket to discourage any attempt to steal his image. The founder of the Magnum agency, who marked the history of photography with his dazzling images, did not do many self-portraits either. Huge works have turned an old car garage into an air-conditioned and state-of-the-art exhibition and storage area of 900 square meters .More here:

A notice to Photography enthusiasts! Be aware that the Grand Palais provides free online courses on the history of photography from November 5th until December 31st 2018.  After the success of the online courses on the history of art and on Picasso, the Grand Palais provides free online courses on the history of photography, on the occasion of Paris Photo 2018. Enough to refine your photographic knowledge and technique.  Delivered by the Orange Foundation for Culture and NMR-Grand Palais, this MOOC (for Massive Open Online Course) approaches in 6 sequences the great movements as well as the authors and the clichés that have marked the history of photography. Direction the site Mooc Photo where already more than 10 000 enthusiasts have registered! The courses are open to all, available free of charge 24 hours a day, and bonuses, at each end of the sequence, a quiz allows you to test your knowledge. More in French here:

So you want to speak French ok how about mixed up with some English, you can have Franglais !! This is every day life here and I think hilarious !! To get straight to the point, we’re just here to let you know that even if  we like English, you have to be able to dose it properly on a daily basis.  We have nothing against a beautiful mixture of cultures. We are just looking to warn most people before they fall into the syndrome called “Afida Turner”.  Our friends the English and the Americans influence us daily with their art (music, films, series…), and by this way, their language. Here are 10 phrases that need to (really) try to use less here in my belle France!!!

1 – Mainstream : Rather cool term because it defines well the state of notoriety of such or such thing, that said… Popular passes as well, huh?

2 – Random : We like to use it, but in itself, we have enough to do with many French synonyms (as commonplace ).

3 – Boriiing :  What annoys us most is probably the lengthening of the word. It sounds very bitchy, and it’s not positive.

4 – Whatever… Still in the same line, the whatever becomes very bitchy with the sharp accent that is added and that makes a lot of shit.

5 – Asap :  That means  “as soon as possible ” (either  “as fast as possible “). You could say that it is a time saver, but it is very effective too…

6 – Anyway… : It can also be added to the family of the bitchy talk (Franglais assumed). Especially annoying when a person places it to move on to something else in a debate.

7 – Bae : Bae does not want to say babe, but before anywone else (before all the others). Unfortunately, in the mouth, the term resonates very little girl who can no longer…..

8 – Cute : One must recognize that the term is quite effective and more practical than a “mignon “. Unfortunately, this over-exploitation has exhausted all  and  tired us out a little by force.

9 – Obviously (ou of course) :  For the time being, there are so obvious alternatives that one wonders why people are going to look so far… A simple  “obviously ” or  “Of course ” is largely enough.

10 – Target : Word that defines that person you dig and want. Only in the ear, the term gives the impression that seducing this person represents a psychotic mission. So, the crush presents itself as the alternative: a real vicious circle!

Yes we do Franglais a lot at work and on night outs here, but mostly just for our inner circle lol!

Enjoy your time in my belle France, and maybe you can catch up on some news here too.  vous avez besoin de faire le target ::)

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

November 3, 2018

The Orangerie museum, Paris!

And continue in our beautiful city of Paris, France. Autumn is in the air, cold temps are back and in some areas even snow. We had beautiful weather in my Morbihan with a bit more cloudy in Paris.

Let me tell you about a special spot. Well not to have fainted memory but I believe was here only once. Even thus worked very near and walk to it every day even at lunch by the Jardin des Tuileries wonderful museums. I like to tell you a bit on the history of this wonderful institution,that is the National Museum of the Orangery.

The National Museum of Orangery (Musée National de l’Orangerie) is a museum of impressionistic and Impressionists paintings located in the Tuileries Garden, at the western end of the terrace of the water’s edge, Place de la Concorde. The museum is located in front of the Seine, in the old Orangerie of the Palais des Tuileries. This site is served by the Concorde metro station.


In addition to the famous cycle of Nymphéas, eight great paintings by Claude Monet that cover the walls of two large oval halls, the museum presents works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Le Douanier Rousseau, André Derain, Chaïm Soutine, Marie Laurencin, Maurice Utrillo, Paul Gauguin and Kees van Dongen.

A bit of history I like, this time; let you wandered through the museum for the exhibitions permanent and temporary. My stumping ground worked not far and used to walk even at lunch time in and around it for peeks.


On the terrace of the Tuileries, at the location of the Orangerie, was in the 17C the restaurant Renard, named after a former valet of the House of Commander Jacques de Souvré who has set up a chalet where there are small discreet rooms adorned with tapestries and of paintings where the nobility of this time loves to meet.

Built in 1852, to house the orange trees of the Tuileries garden during the winter. They have been sheltered in the lower gallery of the Palais du Louvre in this season. Conceived as a greenhouse, its southern façade, overlooking the river, is enclosed in glass in order to receive sunlight, while the north façade is covered, to protect the orange trees from the northern winds. The exterior decor of the two doors, located in the east and west respectively of the building, consists of two columns surmounted by a triangular pediment appearing in the Horns of abundances, pants and corn recalling the original destination of the place. It was in this orangery that, in 1865, the Imperial Prince for the sculptor Carpeux set up his workshop to carry out the portrait of the young son of Napoleon III, accompanied by his dog Nero.


In 1921, the Orangerie was assigned to the Under-Secretary of State for fine Arts. It has the vocation to expose living artists. But the Orangerie is chosen by Claude Monet to host the cycle of Nymphéas that the painter has just given to the State. Until 1927, the date of its inauguration, which took place only six months after the death of Claude Monet, and in the presence of Georges Clemenceau. The orange trees are removed; a staircase and a floor are built to access the exhibition halls. Eight panels of two meters high and a total length of 91 meters are thus exposed in two oval rooms, forming the sign of Infinity, and oriented east-west, thus registering in the historical axis of Paris as well as in the direction of the stroke of the sun. The lighting of these rooms is made by canopies, according to the will of the painter who wanted to plunge the visitor into a state of grace.

Until then attached to the Luxembourg Museum, the National Museum of the Orangerie is attached to that of the Louvre in 1930. From 1930 to 1933, the first exhibitions are devoted to the Impressionists. The one of 1934 relates to the painters of the reality in the 17C while that of 1936, dedicated to Rubens and his time. The painter Edgar Degas was the subject of an exhibition in 1937.

After the liberation, in 1945, the Orangerie as well as the Paume form a single entity that is attached to the department of paintings of the Louvre. In 1946, the masterpieces of the collections of French paintings seized or sold under duress to the Nazis and found in Germany by the Commission of Artistic Recovery with the help of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and American program Archives. In 1954, an exhibition was dedicated to Van Gogh and the painters of Auvers-sur-Oise, while that of 1955 was in the French paintings from David to Toulouse-Lautrec. It is the success of these temporary annual exhibitions that led to the development of the National Galleries of the Grand Palais opening in 1964.

Between 2000 and 2006, renovation work was done. They consisted in the removal of the floor which covered the Nymphéas since 1965 in order to give them their natural lighting moose wanted by Monet. To compensate for the loss of these exhibition spaces, are also created 1 000 m2 in the basement of the Tuileries terrace (for a usable total of 6 300 m2) in order to expose the Walter-Guillaume collection. There is also a temporary exhibition space, an auditorium as well as an educational room and a library. These works allow the discovery of the archaeological remains of the enclosure of the yellow ditches erected from 1566 to protect the palais des Tuileries and a part of the wall is visible inside the museum.

It is attached in May 2010 to the Musée d’Orsay within the public institution of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie. In the summer of 2015, a café is opened in the museum.

Around the building, several sculptures are exhibited. Along the north façade that runs along the Tuileries garden, it is the Great White Commander (1986) of the sculptor Alain Kirili as well as three bronze casts of Rodin: Eve (1881 and cast in 1889), Meditation with arms (1881 and cast towards 1905) and The Shadow (1881 and cast by 1904). A fourth work by Rodin, a cast of the Kisser, takes place in front of the museum’s entrance to the west. On the other side of the museum are Henry Moore’s Reclining Nude (1951) sculptures, located at the foot of the staircase, and a cast from the Lion to the Serpent by Antoine-Louis Barye; Located on the terrace on the banks of the Seine.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit to this wonderful museum are

Official Orangery museum site

Tourist office of Paris on the Orangery museum

Boutique shopping on the Orangery Museum

The Paris Museum Pass, good for those seeking visiting several museums in Paris is a bargain.  Paris Museum Pass on the Orangery museum

There you go, a short introduction to the Musée de l’Orangerie de Paris, a wonderful time to visit and stroll on the equally wonderful Jardin des Tuileries.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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